Do Small Dogs Make Good Pets?

Do small dogs make good pets? Sure, tiny pups are popular status symbols, but they are also notoriously hard to house train.

Do Small Dogs Make Good Pets?

Living in a city has its challenges. Most likely you have a small apartment and use public transportation. This is fine for humans, but what if you want an animal companion?

Taking a dog out with you can be problematic — unless it is small enough to be carried easily in a doggie-approved travel bag. The need for portability disqualifies many breeds.

Fortunately, there are many small breeds out there that will suit the needs of someone looking for a tiny furry friend.

Do Small Dogs Make Good Pets?

Small dogs are bred as companion animals and make wonderful friends. They were most often bred to be company for people, rather than as working dogs, so they don’t have an instinctual need to herd, roam or hunt. Toy breeds are easily carried and don’t require much exercise.

Some people looking for an animal companion may want just that — a companion. They might not want a dog that requires a lot of exercise or who will be unhappy without many hours at the park, beach or other off-leash area.

Small dog in a purse

The American Kennel Club currently recognizes 19 toy breeds:

  • Affenpinscher
  • Brussels Griffon
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Chihuahua
  • Chinese Crested
  • English toy spaniel
  • Havanese
  • Italian Greyhound
  • Japanese chin
  • Maltese
  • Manchester terrier
  • Miniature pinscher
  • Papillon
  • Pekingese
  • Pomeranian
  • Poodle
  • Pug
  • Shih tzu
  • Silky terrier
  • Toy fox terrier
  • Yorkshire Terrier

The three smallest are the Chihuahua, the Pomeranian and the Yorkshire Terrier. Chihuahuas, originally from Mexico, weigh under 6 pounds and are the smallest of all breeds. The American Kennel Club says,

“Chihuahuas are alert dogs with terrier-like qualities. They are good with families if the children are gentle and patient. Because of their small size, they require little exercise and are good city dogs, but can be sensitive to cold temperatures. Smooth-coated Chihuahuas need very little grooming due to their short hair. Long coats need occasional brushing, but still require minimal grooming.”

Pomeranians, originally from Pomerania (modern-day Germany and Poland) come in second, weighing under 7 pounds, followed by an English import, the Yorkshire Terrier. Yorkies also weigh less than 7 pounds, but their minimum weight is 4 pounds — one pound more than the Pomeranian.

Other breeds have miniature versions, like the Dachshund, but they are not recognized specially as a toy breed.

Problems with Small Dogs

Smaller dogs are often the product of irresponsible breeders or puppy mills, which turn out high numbers of puppies with little regard for the health of the breed. Puppy mill pets often have behavioral problems from improper socialization or improper handling, as well as serious health concerns from over-breeding and poor care.

Small breeds are also notoriously hard to house train. Owners blame this on a number of problems, but one of the biggest reasons is also related to puppy mills — the puppies are born and they eat, sleep and poop all in the same area. They learn from the very beginning that they have to live in their own filth, and this early training is very difficult to redirect.

These pint-sized puppies also are susceptible to a number of genetic defects, bad reactions to vaccinations and urinary tract infections. A small-dog owner will need to be particularly vigilant about the pet’s health.

They Are Not Status Symbols!

Small dogs can be quite costly because they are seen as a status symbol, costing upwards of $2,000 from pet stores.

Fortunately, you can avoid this cost by going to an animal rescue or shelter. Many small pets are abandoned by their owners when the owner moves on to the next trendy pet or accessory. Lovely, friendly, house-trained dogs are waiting for adoption. Additionally, by adopting, you are helping to put the puppy mills out of business.

Photos: joe.rudd (top) and istolethetv/Flickr

Sarah Blakemore

View posts by Sarah Blakemore
Sarah Blakemore has been researching and writing about pet care and pet behaviors since 2007. She has cared for many pets over the years and has volunteered with several animal shelters around the world.

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